The race for the overall victory and the battle for the LMP1 championship of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) took a major twist in the opening 50 laps of Petit Le Mans.

Lucas Luhr had run in second place for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing during the opening stint of the 10 hour or 1,000 mile race at Road Atlanta, before the German took the lead from Rebellion Racing when both of the leaders pitted together at the end of lap 34.

However, while leading Luhr was clipped by Peter Lesaffre in the GTC class Green Hornet Racing climbing away from turn one – Luhr trying to lap both Lesaffre and another GTC Porsche  at once, passing both on the extreme right of the track.

The contact spun Luhr to drivers’ left, his HPD chassis slapping the wall before spinning back across the track to come to rest at the apex of turn three with suspension damage clearly evident.

Under the resulting full course caution – the first of the race the car was recovered back to the pits, the team hopeful of a 45 minute repair before returning the car to the race. In order to clinch the ALMS title over rivals Dyson Racing the Muscle Milk team – Klaus Graf and Romain Dumas co-driving with Luhr at Petit Le Mans – need only complete 70% of race distance.

In Luhr’s absence Marino Franchitti took second overall in the LMP2 leading Level 5 Motorsports car. Chris Dyson – in the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda that stands to gain the most lies in eighth overall a lap down on overall leaders Rebellion Racing after 90 minutes of the race.